Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission has extended temporary safety rules on official controls yet again. 

The updated legislation says that the flexibility given to EU countries is needed as issues are likely to continue in the coming months and to help authorities plan checks. 

Officials from EU member states informed the EU Commission that because of the COVID-19 crisis, there are some serious disruptions in their control systems due to difficulties to perform official controls and other activities to do with movement of animals and goods into and within the EU. These problems are expected to continue beyond July 2021. 

The rules had already been extended for a fourth time in February 2021 and initially were put in place in March 2020. They had been due to expire this month but now they will last until September 2021. Official controls are implemented by authorities in EU countries to verify that businesses are complying with legislation on food and feed law, animal health and welfare, plant health, and plant protection products.

Previously, 19 countries including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden were known to have used the measures. The measures include remote official controls and scanned or electronic documents being accepted for some commodities.

Some issues involved the clinical examination of animals, certain checks on products of animal origin plant products and on food and feed of non-animal origin, and testing of samples in official laboratories. 

The most recent update doesn't mention the option to allow people authorized by national authorities to perform official controls and other tasks; this was added in the February revision. They had to follow instructions given by the authority, act impartially, and were not allowed to have conflicts of interest.

Source: Food Safety News